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Little is known about the effects of NPC1 deficiency in brain development and whether these effects contribute to neurodegeneration in Niemann–Pick disease type C (NPC). Degeneration of cerebellar Purkinje cells occurs at an earlier stage and to a greater extent in NPC; therefore, we analyzed the effect of NPC1 deficiency on microglia and on climbing fiber synaptic refinement during cerebellar postnatal development using the Npc1ⁿᵐᶠ¹⁶⁴ mouse. Our analysis revealed that NPC1 deficiency leads to early phenotypic changes in microglia that are not associated with an innate immune response. However, the lack of NPC1 in Npc1ⁿᵐᶠ¹⁶⁴ mice significantly affected the early development of microglia by delaying the radial migration, increasing the proliferation and impairing the differentiation of microglia precursor cells during postnatal development. Additionally, increased phagocytic activity of differentiating microglia was observed at the end of the second postnatal week in Npc1ⁿᵐᶠ¹⁶⁴ mice. Moreover, significant climbing fiber synaptic refinement deficits along with an increased engulfment of climbing fiber synaptic elements by microglia were found in Npc1ⁿᵐᶠ¹⁶⁴ mice, suggesting that profound developmental defects in microglia and synaptic connectivity might precede and predispose Purkinje cells to early neurodegeneration in NPC.


Cerebellum, CLEC7A, NPC, VGLUT2, Microglia, Pruning

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